Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Letter From A Student

Just came across this letter from a past student sent to me in October 2013. As a teacher I rarely received feedback from students partly because the year a teacher spends with a student flies quickly by and then both move on to other things. Also, I was the kind of teacher who "pushed the birds out of the nest when they were ready to fly and did not invite them back to visit!"

Reading this again made me feel good.

Mr. Horvich,

My wife took my children to the Chicago Children’s Museum this week, and mentioned to me that there was an exhibit donated by you, and thought the name of Michael Horvich might be familiar to me.

It certainly is, because I was a participant in the T*A*G program at Hoffman School (District 34) and took several classes with you in 1981-1984 (my 4th through 6th grade years).

I remember various projects, including writing and hand-making a children’s book (which I still have, and have read to my son), designing a marketing campaign for an everyday object (I chose a die), playing with Mobius strips, and reading books from the Narnia chronicles and drawing illustrations of Turkish Delight.

You melded learning, creativity, fun, and personal challenge into a package that I not only cherish, but have measured all learning experience throughout my academic and professional careers to those standards.

I also gained a combination of self-esteem, and a respect for the intelligence and creativity of others, that has become a core part of who I am today.  Your influence led me on a path which included:
  • Participation in an Oakton Community College Program where 6th graders take the SAT and are eligible for advanced classes
  • Participation in the Worlds of Wisdom and Wonder through the Glenview-based Center For Gifted
  • Algebra I and II and Geometry during my Junior High years, where I also learned how to self-motivate and prioritize my academicsAcceptance into the Glenbrook Academy of International Studies offered by the Glenbrook High Schools, despite my affinity for Math instead of Humanities
  • Running out of Math classes at GBS, and having the head of the math department tutor me in Actuarial Mathematics
  • Being the President and Captain of both our Math Team and Academic Bowl, which exercised my presentation skills as well as problem-solving
  • Being a math tutor during High School, College, and throughout my adult life, including students who were accelerated and mentally challenged
  • Receiving a degree in Actuarial Science from UIUC, even though I did NOT become an Actuary as a profession
  • Utilizing all these skills in a technology-focused company where I have been a Senior Project Manager for 16 years
  • Becoming a member of Mensa (“to see if I could do it”)
  • Volunteering my time as an adult with the Center For Gifted co-teaching classes
  • Raising two children who embrace learning, creativity, challenge, and fun as a single whole
  • Becoming a life-long learner, intellectual, gamer, and mentor
So as I write this I hope you get a sense that in the series of dominoes that are life’s events, you were instrumental in pushing the right ones forward.  I am fortunate enough to say you were not the only force in this direction, but you were an important and influential one, and I very much thank you for being in my life at the right time and being a key guidepost on my path to knowledge and fulfillment.

I am delighted to see how you have extended your career and have taken an interest in your blog.  I wish you happiness and success in your various endeavors.

(And I can’t believe it’s been 30-or-so years!)

Feel free to correspond if you would like to share or want to know more.



Buffalo Grove, IL


  1. How wonderful that letter is from your former student and how nice that you discovered it. Another whole phase of your life!! Isn't it amazing how many different aspects to our life we have and how much they wrap us in our memories of our earlier days when we are going through such a time as this.


    1. Yes. Those aspects also have the tendency to make us want to do more, to do better. For me it motivates me to not miss opportunities like the so many I had missed while my “eyes were still closed.”


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